Obama Administration Announces New Open Access Policy

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By Kelly Burke for Intellectual Property Watch

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has issued a new policy memorandum increasing public access to federally funded scientific research, including peer-reviewed publications and digital data.

OSTP Director John Holdren has directed federal agencies with “more than US$ 100 million in R&D expenditures to develop plans to make the published results of federally funded research freely available to the public within one year of publication,” according to the memo, available here.

“Scientific research supported by the Federal Government catalyzes innovative breakthroughs that drive our economy,” the memo stated. “The results of that research become the grist for new insights and are assets for progress in areas such as health, energy, the environment, agriculture, and national security.”

The directive refers to the post-publication period as a “guideline”, suggesting that different embargo periods might apply in different disciplines. Agencies have six months, from the publication of the memorandum, to detail plans to the OSTP.

The final policy was announced, in part, as a response to an online public petition calling for free access to research. The petition secured more than 65,000 signatures.

Peter Suber, director of the Harvard Open Access Project, said in his blog: “This is big. It’s big in its own right, and even bigger when put together with FASTR, the bipartisan open access bill introduced into both houses of Congress.”

Holdren’s memo was applauded by open access advocates:


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  1. says


    The new US OATP Presidential Directive requiring the largest US funding agencies to mandate OA within 12 months of publication is a wonderful step forward for the entire planet.

    Here are some crucial implementational details that will maximize the mandates’ effectiveness.
    (1) Specify that the deposit of each article must be in an institutional repository (so the universities and research institutions can monitor and ensure compliance as well as adopt mandates of their own).

    (2) Specify that the deposit must be done immediately upon publication.

    (3) Urge (but do not require) authors to make the immediate-deposit immediately-OA.

    (4) Urge (but do not require) authors to reserve the right to make their papers immediately-OA (and other re-use rights) in their contracts with their publishers (as in the Harvard-style mandates).

    (5) Shorten, or, better, do not mention allowable OA embargoes at all (so as not to encourage publishers to adopt them).

    (6) Implement the repositories’ automated “email eprint request” Button (for embargoed [non-OA] deposits).

    (7) Designate repository deposit as the sole mechanism for submitting publications for performance review, research assessment, grant application, or grant renewal.

    (8) Implement rich usage and citation metrics in the institutional repositories as incentive for compliance.
    If this is all done universally, universal OA will soon be upon us — and a global transition to affordable, sustainable Fair-Gold OA (instead of today’s premature, double-paid Fool’s-Gold), plus as much CC-BY as users need and authors wish to provide — will not be far behind.

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